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Stanford Men's Basketball: Measuring Success

Earlier this week, Stanford Daily columnist Jacob Jaffe considered a question: Was this a successful season for the Stanford men's basketball team? A win at Cal in today's regular season finale, which would give Stanford a season sweep of the Golden Bears and ensure a winning record, might sway some opinions, but I imagine there are a number of Stanford fans who would agree with norcalnick of California Golden Blogs that "it would be hard to characterize Stanford's season as anything but a disappointment at this juncture."

Whether you consider this season a success or a failure depends, in part, on what your expectations were coming into the season. The return of Jeremy Green and Josh Owens, coupled with the arrival of one of the best recruiting classes in the Pac-10, brought the promise of a quick turnaround. In a weak Pac-10, 16-19 wins and a finish in the top half of the conference seemed possible.

As Jaffe writes, this season has gone mostly according to the hardly Oscar-worthy and hardly awful script:

Stanford was picked to finish ninth in the conference, and currently sits in eighth with one game to play. The Cardinal has lost most of the games it should lose (at Butler, at Oklahoma State, etc.), won most of the games it should win (vs. North Carolina A&T, vs. Yale, etc.) and pulled a few surprises both ways (beating Washington but losing to Oregon at home). All in all, though, the record stands about where most people expected it to: around .500 overall and a touch below .500 in Pac-10 play.

At the midpoint of the Pac-10 season, Stanford was 11-9 overall and 4-5 in conference. The Cardinal was averaging fewer than 60 points per game against conference foes and most of you predicted that Stanford would finish with 4-5 more wins. Stanford sits at 15-14 heading into today's game, guaranteed of at least a .500 record during the regular season after finishing 14-18 with NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Landry Fields running the show a year ago.

That's promising, as is the development of Anthony Brown, who has become more assertive in the second half of the season. On last weekend's trip to Oregon, fellow freshman Aaron Bright scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time all season, while Dwight Powell recorded his first double-double in Pac-10 play. Brown followed with the first double-double of his career in Tuesday's win against Seattle.

There have been some disappointing performances this season and the Cardinal has, at times, been painful to watch. Things have gotten better, however, especially on the offensive end. Halfway through the conference schedule, Stanford was averaging less than 60 points per game. That number is up to 66.1. The improvement is as much thanks to the improved play of veterans Green and Owens as the contributions from Johnny Dawkins' freshmen.

I like Jaffe's conclusion. This season has been an extended introduction to what should be a successful 2011-12, with everyone returning and touted point guard Chasson Randle arriving on the Farm. As I told the guys at CGB, I think Dawkins has laid the foundation for success.

So what are your thoughts on the season? Was it a success? Feel free to leave your prediction for today's game in the comments. Go Cardinal!


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